This is big news. The State Department is telling Israel to back off from Susiya, the village in the Hebron Hills that was targeted for demolition to make way for Jewish settlers.
From the briefing yesterday:
QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to reports that Israel may demolish part of a village called Susiya in the West Bank for expanding settlements?
MR [JOHN] KIRBY: I do. We’re closely following developments in the village of Susiya in the West Bank, and we strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes would be harmful and provocative. Such actions have an impact beyond those individuals and families who are evicted. We are concerned that the demolition of this village may worsen the atmosphere for a peaceful resolution and would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation, particularly given settlement-related activity in the area. We urge Israeli authorities to work with the residents of the village to finalize a plan for the village that addresses the residents’ humanitarian needs.
Great. A sign of things to come? State’s intervention follows a fantastic letter from Anna Eshoo, the Silicon Valley congresswoman, to the Secretary of State, saying clearly, Save these people. Eight congresspeople signed the letter.
Dear Secretary Kerry,
We write to you with great urgency to express our serious concern about the recent decisions made by the High Court of Israel to allow the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya, and deny the planning rights of Palestinian Villages in Area C of the West Bank.
The Palestinian village of Susiya, located in the Hebron Governorate in the south of the occupied West Bank, is currently home to 55 families who have been living in this location for decades and hold undisputed title to their land. Half of the homes of these families and all the community’s public structures are located in Area C where Israel maintains full control over planning and zoning.
Susiya submitted a professionally developed master plan to the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) but on October 24, 2013, the ICA rejected it. In their rejection, ICA stated the villagers would be better off living somewhere else.
With the help of the non-governmental organization Rabbis for Human Rights, the villagers petitioned the High Court of Israel to allow reconsideration of their master plan. On May 4, 2015, the High Court of Israel refused to issue a temporary injunction against demolition, paving the way for the village to be demolished before their appeal is to be heard on August 3rd.
We are especially concerned about this village because on June 9th the High Court of Israel denied the right of Palestinian villages in the West Bank’s Area C to plan their own communities, leaving all decisions on zoning and planning to the ICA, with no direct Palestinian representation when it comes to the future of their towns.
We urge you to take immediate action to prevent the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya and prevent the continuing demolition of Palestinian neighborhoods, farmlands, and olive orchards in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and in Israel.
We hope your intervention, amplified by the concern of citizens and countries throughout the world, will assure the safety of the Palestinian Village of Susiya.
Donna Baranski-Walker of the Rebuilding Alliance was circulating the letter. Here’s her pitch for it yesterday. Signatures closed today.
It’s working. Eight Representatives have signed-on to Representative Anna Eshoo’s letter. Senior foreign policy staff, Hannah Murphy wrote, “So far I have Representatives Eshoo, Ellison, Rush, Capps, Carson, Pingree, McDermott, McGovern, and Conyers. I will keep it open until tomorrow morning because a lot of offices are interested. Tell them 12pm – Noon.”
Please set your alarm and call your member of Congress Friday morning to urge them to sign-on to Reprentative Eshoo’s letter by noon Friday. Have them contact Hannah Murphy <[email protected]>. Let’s in the hope of stopping the demolition of the Palestinian Village of Susiya.
There is not much time. According to Rabbi Arik Ascherman, President and Senior Rabbi of Rabbis for Human Rights,
“On Sunday, July 12th, top Israeli Army brass showed up in the South Hebron Hills Village of Susiya to tell them that sometime after the Moslem holiday of Eid El Fitr ends on Sunday night and before a scheduled High Court Hearing on August 3rd, the army will demolish homes. We received the list last night, and IT INCLUDES SOME 32 STRUCTURES, HALF OF THE STRUCTURES IN SUSYA. On Sunday, the officers openly admitted that they were preempting the High Court because of settler pressure.”
Your Representative’s signature must be in by Noon Friday. Once you make your call, click Count Me In, on our Crisis Prevention Map to show how many people care about Peace and care about Susiya — it might help.
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance
Will the New York Times and the JTA call up Ascherman and Baranski-Walker and Eshoo to find out how this happened? Let’s hope.